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Tips for Oktoberfest in Munich: First-time Visitors Guide

Are you looking for tips for Oktoberfest in Munich to enhance your experience at the world’s largest beer festival? These essential tips will ensure you make the most of this vibrant cultural event. Whether navigating the bustling beer tents, indulging in Bavarian delicacies, or exploring the rich traditions, our guide has you covered for an unforgettable Oktoberfest journey.

Understanding Munich’s Oktoberfest:

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, celebrating Bavarian culture with liters of beer, a large carnival, and traditional music.

The festival takes place on the Oktoberfest grounds, known as Theresienwiese, named after Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

Oktoberfest dates back to the first festival in 1810, which featured a horse race to celebrate the royal wedding of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

When is Oktoberfest in Munich?

Munich’s Oktoberfest traditionally starts in late September and runs until early October. In 2024, Oktoberfest will be held from September 21 – October 6.

The festival starts with the Mayor of Munich tapping the first keg during the opening ceremony in the Schottenhamel tent.

To avoid huge crowds, consider attending on weekdays or during family days, which offer a more relaxed atmosphere.

Family days are offered twice during Oktoberfest. On those days, discounts are offered for children and families until 7:00 p.m.

Reservations and Costs of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest beer tent reservations can be made directly with the tent owners. Information on events and tents can be found on the official Oktoberfest website.

In 2024, an online portal will be available for buying resale tickets at the original prices. It will allow exchanges and others to purchase directly from the tents, cutting out the third-party sellers who sell for a profit. Twenty-one tents are currently participating. 

While entry to the festival grounds is free, budget for food, beer, and extra costs like souvenirs or rides. The most significant cost of attending Oktoberfest is lodging and transportation.

The liter of beer is sold, and prices vary between tents but expect to pay around 12-14 euros per liter. Food ranges in the price range of 6-30 euros.

Table Reservations are not required. Tents will leave tables open for walk-ins. 

It is highly recommended that reservations be made for large groups to secure seating together.

When reserving a table, you are reserving for 8-10 people. To reserve the table, you must pay a minimum consumption amount and receive vouchers redeemable for food and drink. The cost is approximately 2 liters of beer and a chicken meal.

Reservations for 2024 will open in late Spring, April, or May. 

The entry fee for the Oide Wiesn (Old Oktoberfest) amounts to 4 euros.

Aerial Photography of Group of People at Oktoberfest in Munich

Oktoberfest Tent Highlights

The festival boasts big beer tents, like the Hofbräu tent, and smaller tents, each with a unique vibe and food menu.

The Augustiner tent is a favorite among Munich locals for its traditional Bavarian atmosphere.

For a quieter experience, the wine tent may be a great option. It offers a selection of wines and a different ambiance.

There are beer gardens at most of the larger tents, so if you can’t find a seat inside, grab a beer and relax outside while the crowds thin down.

​Oktoberfest Beer Tents and Themes

There are 17  main tents at Oktoberfest, with each one different.

  1. Augustiner Festhalle—This tent is the most popular among Germans and is the most family-friendly. However, getting a reservation is one of the more challenging places.
  2. Armbrustschützenzelt is the most popular tent with a large crowd. It features the Crossbow Competition and has a hunting lodge theme.
  3. Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke—Many end their night here since it is open until 1:00 a.m. It is known as the celebrity and foodie tent and has a chalet theme.
  4. Fischer Vroni – Known for serving fish. Although the decorations are lovely and the food delicious, it smells like all the fish being prepared.
  5. Hacker Festzelt—Another crowd favorite features a ceiling painted with white clouds and a blue sky, as well as walls painted with Munich landmarks. It is nicknamed “Bavarian Heaven.”
  6. Hofbräu —Festzelt—This is a favorite tent among international visitors, especially Americans. It draws large crowds but not many locals. It also has a large outdoor beer garden
  7. Löwenbräu-Festhalle – A large Lion identifies this tent at the entrance and tends to have an older crowd.
  8. Marstall Festzelt—Here, you will find a younger, hipper, and more refined crowd. It has a horse theme, as initially, the Munich Marstall was a riding school.
  9. Ochsenbraterei—This tent has existed since 1881. It is known for its big brass band and serving Ox dishes.
  10. Paulaner Winzerer Fähndl is the largest of the Oktoberfest tents, identified by the large rotating beer stein in the center. It has a great atmosphere, and the band is in the center pavilion.
  11. Pschorr-Bräurosl —Since 1901, the Heide family has been running this tent, which has its own Yodeler and is flanked by two large maypoles. 
  12. Schottenhammel is the oldest tent at Munich Oktoberfest and is popular among Germans. On opening day, the first beer is tapped there.
  13. Schützen-Festzelt – This tent has a great outdoor balcony with wonderful views of the Ferris wheel and Oktoberfest festival tents.
  14. Kufflers Weinzelt—This is the wine tent. It is known for offering a variety of dishes, such as seafood. This is another family-friendly option.

Oide Wiesn Beer Tents

  1. Festzelt Tradition – Old Oktoberfest This tent is a more traditional experience and serves beer in traditional stone Maßes. 
  2. Herzkaspertzelt—Old Oktoberfest is another tent located in Oide Wiesn. It has a more laid-back and cozy vibe and an older local crowd.
  3. Schützenlisl – Old Oktoberfest located in Oide Wiesn. Modeled after a Bavarian Inn, this tent is known for its folk music.

In 2024, the Bavarian Central Agricultural Festival is expected to utilize Oide Wiesn and keep Festzelt Tradition, Herzkaspertzelt, and Schützenlisl closed.

Oktoberfest 2022 guys in Lederhosen showing what to wear to Oktoberfest in Munich

Dressing the Part to Attend Oktoberfest in Munich

Traditional Bavarian clothing is the dress code, with lederhosen for men and dirndls for women.

Wearing traditional dress enhances your Oktoberfest experience and shows respect for Bavarian culture.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be on your feet, dancing and navigating the festival grounds.

Do not allow sandals or open-toe shoes to be worn, as the festival grounds become crowded, and beer can make the tent floors wet. Also, don’t wear a pair of shoes that you wouldn’t want ruined.

Don’t wear a “costume”. It is offensive to Bavarians; they take their traditions seriously.

Don’t bring big bags or backpacks into the Wisen. Women should bring a small purse, preferably a crossbody. The dimensions should be  8″ x 6″ x 4″ / 3L

Make sure to tie your dirndl on the correct side.

  • The bow on the left means that you are Single
  • Wearing the bow on the right side means someone has taken you.
  • The bow in the middle means you are a Virgin
  • You are considered widowed or a server if a bow is in the back.

Making the Most of Your Oktoberfest Visit

Plan for full days to soak in the festive atmosphere, from the traditional music to the iconic roast chicken.

Bring a credit card for emergencies, but use cash for most transactions on the festival grounds.

Have coins to tip the bathroom attendants.

ATMs are on the festival grounds, but they charge a steep fee and get cash and change before arriving.

Stay hydrated and pace yourself with soft drinks or a Radler (beer mixed with lemonade) to ensure a great time without overindulgence.

If traveling internationally, buy an eSIM card to save on data costs.

How to use an eSIM Card

Are you going on a trip and want to stay connected without racking international roaming charges on your cell phone? Here’s what you need to do: set up wifi calling before you leave home. It’s easy to do and will allow you to call and text using wifi even when your phone is in airplane mode.

If you have an Apple phone, you can even FaceTime with other Apple users. Android users can communicate with WhatsApp.

Another great option is to buy an eSIM card via Airalo. Upload an eSIM to your phone (don’t delete your eSIM from your cell phone carrier; switch it off for Data usage). Your eSIM provider will give you instructions on how to do this. Be aware that the eSIM is for data only and will only work in the countries where you’ve purchased the service. If you need to make calls or text using data, you can still use WhatsApp. Stay connected and save money with these tips!

Socializing and Etiquette at Oktoberfest

Embrace the communal spirit by joining in on traditional songs and socializing with fellow festival-goers at your table.

When toasting with big beers, remember to say “Prost!” and maintain eye contact to avoid bad luck—tap the base of the glass, not the top. Take a drink afterward, even if it is just a sip.

Closeup Photo of Clear Glass Mug

Must Try Food and Drink at Oktoberfest

Indulge in Bavarian delicacies like:

  • pretzels (brezel)
  • roasted almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln)
  • bratwurst
  • roasted pork knuckle (Schweinhaxe}
  • the famous 1/2 roast chicken (halbes Hendl)
  • Bavarian’s version of mac ‘n cheese, Käsespätzle

Try a Radler

If you need to pace your drinking, consider ordering a Radler. This combination of lemonade and beer is sweet and refreshing.

Each beer hall and tent offers a variety of Oktoberfest beers—be a true beer lover and try different brews from the big tents

Munich’s Big 6 breweries make a special beer exclusively for Oktoberfest. 

  • Augustiner: Augustiner-Festhalle, Fischer Vroni
  • Hacker-Pschorr: Hacker Festzelt, Pschorr-Bräurosl
  • Hofbräu: Hofbräu Festzelt
  • Löwenbräu: Schützen-Festzelt, Löwenbräu-Festhalle
  • Paulaner: Armbrustschützenzelt, Winzerer Fähndl, Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke
  • Spaten: Marstall, Schottenhamel, Ochsenbraterei

Oktoberfest beer has 6% alcohol and is more potent than regular beer. Pace yourself and hydrate!

Remember to tip your servers; a euro or two per round is customary and appreciated.

Group Of People Dancing Together at Oktoberfest in Munich

Be ready to Sing & Socialize

Don’t worry if you don’t know traditional German Songs. They will have American classics like Take Me Home, Country Roads, Sweet Home Alabama, Sweet Caroline, Hey Girl, and YMCA. If you want to get into the Oktoberfest mood, learn a few traditional songs such as Ein Prosit, Hände zum Himmel, and Esellied

Since you will sit at large tables next to strangers, be social, make new friends, and enjoy the atmosphere.

German Phrases to Know

Please = Bitte

Thanks – Danke

1 Liter of Beer Please – Ein Liter Bier, Bitte

1 Liter of Light Beer Please  – Ein Maß Helles Bitte

Where is the bathroom? – Wo ist das Badezimmer?

Is this seat taken? – Ist dieser Platz belegt?

Hello – Hallo

Goodbye – Verabschiedung

Yes – Ja

No – Nein

Oktoberfest beyond the beer tents

The festival grounds offer more than just beer; explore carnival rides, games, and cultural events like the Oide Wiesn with its traditional attractions.

Family days offer special prices and a more subdued atmosphere, perfect for those visiting with children or preferring a less-party scene.

The first Sunday of Oktoberfest is Gay Oktoberfest.

Theresienwiese is where Oktoberfest takes place. Public transportation or walking provides easy access to it.

Schaustellerstraße is located to the East (left) of the main entrance. It has Carnival rides and games and a more family-friendly atmosphere.

Oide Wiesn is behind the Ferris wheel, and it is more of a cultural event with several beer tents and historical attractions. There is a 4 euro admission fee to this area.

Wirtsbudenstraße is where the beer tents are located. It is on the West side (right) of the Main entrance.

Classic Oktoberfest Attractions at Schaustellerstraße

  • Ferris Wheel: Can you attend a carnival, let alone Oktoberfest, without going on the Ferris Wheel?
  • Toboggan is not only a long slide, but riding the conveyor belt up is just as much fun. It is also great for people-watching!
  • Wellenflug (Wave Flight) – A chain swing high up in the air
  • The Krinoline (Crinoline)- A nostalgic ride of sofa gondolas swinging as a brass band plays music.
  • Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel) The objective of Teufelsrad is to be the last person standing on the wheel. The strategy is to hold the rope tightly and maintain balance as the wheel speeds up.

Our Trusted Resources


Booking.com: for booking accommodations

Fare Drop: for finding the best airfare deals.

Viator or Get Your Guide: for all my activities

Discover Cars: for car rentals

Airalo: for eSIM card

Trainline: for booking train tickets

Vuori & prAna: great sources for travel clothes

Columbia: great clothes and accessories for outdoor adventures.

International Drivers Permit: for getting your IDP

Travelex: for Travel Insurance

Tips for surviving Oktoberfest in Munich

Oktoberfest Tickets

There are no “tickets” to Oktoberfest. It is a free festival. You will only pay for the food and beer you consume, any rides you go on, souvenirs you buy, and tipping your servers. If customers make table reservations, they will only incur a minimum charge for food or drink. You will receive vouchers for food and drink that you can redeem at Oktoberfest.

Hydrate

It is not a sprint but a marathon. Make sure to stay hydrated. If you want to conceal your slowdown of drinking beer, order a Radler.

Get a table early

Avoid the times when table reservations change over. There will be crowds of people trying to find a new space.

Ask a Server for a Table

Find a server who is not to help you find a table. Ask nicely and tell them how many are in your party.

Sit at a table to order a beer or food

You cannot order a beer or food while standing up. The servers will only take orders from people sitting at tables.

Souvenirs and Memories

Capture your memories with photos and videos, but take the time to put the camera away and fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Traditional souvenirs like beer steins, gingerbread hearts (Lebkuchenherzen), and Bavarian hats make great souvenirs. Do not try to steal the beer glasses, security is watching for glasses when you leave.

Woman in Grey And Red Floral Square-neckline Dress at Oktoberfest in Munich

Cultural Respect:

Show respect for the deeply rooted Bavarian culture by learning a bit about the customs and history of Oktoberfest.

While it’s a festive atmosphere, be mindful of residents and businesses around the festival area.

While dressing up is part of the fun, individuals should wear traditional attire (Dirndl or Lederhosen) with respect for the culture and traditions they represent.

Transportation and Navigation to Oktoberfest

Munich’s public transportation system is efficient and reliable, with special services during Oktoberfest to accommodate the extra passengers.

You can download a local transit app or grab a network map to help you navigate the trains, trams, and buses.

Remember that the festival grounds are at Theresienwiese, easily accessible by U-Bahn (subway) via the U4 or U5 lines.

Where to stay in Munich for Oktoberfest?

Make your reservations early, as the cost will increase closer to Oktoberfest. If you are farther away from Central Munich to save money, ensure your lodging is close to the U-Bahn (U4 and U5) for easy transportation.

Exploring Munich:

Take some time to discover Munich beyond the Oktoberfest experience; the city center is rich with history and attractions.

Iconic sites like the Marienplaz, the Glockenspiel, and the Münchner Residenz are within easy reach and worth a visit.

If you haven’t had enough beer after the festival, explore other local breweries or beer gardens in Munich to appreciate the variety of Bavarian beer.

Visit the Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s daily food market, to taste regional products and specialty foods.

Take a walking tour of Munich to learn about its architecture, history and how the city celebrates its heritage year-round.

For a complete Bavarian experience, consider day trips to nearby attractions such as Neuschwanstein Castle, Rothenburg, Salzburg, Austria, or Dachau Concentration Camp.

Planning Your Next Trip to Munich for Oktoberfest

If you fall in love with the Oktoberfest experience, plan your next year’s visit early to secure the best reservations and deals.

Keep an eye on the official Oktoberfest website for updates on the following year‘s festival dates and new attractions.

Table reservations open in late Spring – April and May. Join the newsletter of the tents that are your favorites to know when reservations open.

overview of the crowd at Oktoberfest in Munich in one of the beer tents.

Continuing the Celebration:

Once you’re back home, consider hosting your Oktoberfest-themed party to share the fun with friends.

Use the recipes and music you discovered at the festival to recreate the atmosphere.

Is Oktoberfest in Munich worth it?

Yes! It is a bucket list activity to experience Oktoberfest in Munich wearing the traditional costume. Soak in the atmosphere and have a great time. Besides having Oktoberfest, Munich is a beautiful city to visit.

Square in Old Town in Munich with white buildings and people socializing in the square.

Final Advice about tips for Oktoberfest in Munich

Whether it’s your first time or a seasoned attendee, having a plan is the most important thing to ensure a good time.

Prepare for weather changes in late September and early October, and remember that layered clothing can be your best friend.

Lastly, you should utilize the buddy system, particularly in large crowds, to ensure everybody’s safety and ability to return to the hotel or meeting point following the festivities.

By following these tips and embracing the spirit of Oktoberfest, you can create lasting memories and enjoy a truly authentic experience. 

Prost!

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5 Comments

  1. We will miss Munich for Oktoberfest but we will be in Germany this year at this time of year. It looks like we should have planned a little time in Munich to enjoy one of these great spots to celebrate. Some great tips for other Oktoberfest festivities we might get to enjoy.

  2. These are some great tips to make the most of Oktoberfest. My husband has gone, though I’m a bit intimidated by the crowds.

  3. I had no clue Oktoberfest was free so I learned something new. Germany has been on my list of places to visit and this seems like a great time to experience it!

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